Facing Deportation from New Zealand? Know Your Options

Facing Deportation from New Zealand? Know Your Options


A looming deportation order can be a stressful and uncertain time.  Whether you’ve overstayed your visa or encountered complex and legal issues in New Zealand, understanding your options is crucial. 

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) enforces deportation policies to manage individuals unlawfully residing in the country or engaging in criminal activities. This blog will guide you through the deportation process in New Zealand, the criteria for deportation, and the implications for non-residents and residents alike.

Deportation Overview

Deportation Liability Notices and Deportation Orders

INZ issues Deportation Liability Notices (DLNs) and Deportation Orders to individuals liable for deportation due to criminal activity, public interest concerns, or unlawful residency in New Zealand. These notices are the initial steps in the deportation process, which includes an opportunity for the affected individuals to appeal.

Voluntary Departure vs. Forced Deportation

Voluntary departure allows individuals to leave New Zealand without facing a prohibition on returning, provided they can secure the necessary visa. In contrast, forced deportation results in a prohibition period of up to five years, during which individuals are barred from re-entering New Zealand.

Criteria for Deportation

High-Priority Cases

INZ prioritizes deportation cases based on specific criteria:

  • National Security Threats: Individuals posing threats to national security.
  • Criminal Activity: Persons about to be released from prison or involved in criminal conduct.
  • Exhausted Legal Pathways: Individuals who have no remaining legal avenues to remain in New Zealand or are deemed non-genuine refugees.

Collaboration with Other Agencies

INZ collaborates with the Department of Corrections and other agencies to manage the deportation of individuals in prison, ensuring a coordinated approach to deportation upon their release.

Deportation of Non-Residents

Overstaying Visa Terms

Individuals who remain in New Zealand beyond their visa’s validity are automatically liable for deportation. INZ may issue a Deportation Order once the individual’s appeal rights have expired. Appeal rights commence on the day the person becomes unlawfully present in New Zealand.

Breach of Visa Conditions

Non-residents who breach their visa conditions or exhibit character issues are served with a DLN, initiating their appeal rights. They have 42 days to appeal on humanitarian grounds to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT). During this period, deportation is not enforced unless they waive their appeal rights.

Serious Criminal Offences

It is standard practice to deport non-residents convicted of serious criminal offences after serving their prison terms, reflecting the gravity of their offences and their breach of public trust.

Deportation of Residents

Conditions for Deportation Under Section 161

Residents may become liable for deportation under section 161 of the Immigration Act 2009 based on the timing of their offence relative to their residency status:

  • Within Two Years of Residency: Offences with potential imprisonment of three months or more.
  • Within Five Years of Residency: Offences with potential imprisonment of two years or more.
  • Within Ten Years of Residency: Offences resulting in imprisonment of five years or more.

Immigration Fraud

Residents may also face deportation for immigration fraud, such as providing false information in their visa application or other acts of deception.

Deportation Statistics

Recent Trends

The following table provides a breakdown of deportations, self-deportations, and voluntary departures over the last six financial years:

Financial Year Deportation Self-deportation Voluntary Departure Total
2018/2019 454 586 865 1905
2019/2020 360 360 548 1268
2020/2021 251 178 271 700
2021/2022 154 162 222 538
2022/2023 224 246 242 712
2023/2024 203 193 219 615

Note: The decline in deportations during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

Overstayed Visa Estimates

In 2017, it was estimated that approximately 14,000 migrants were without valid visas in New Zealand. The data’s accuracy is influenced by inconsistencies in border movements and visa validity records.

Demographic Breakdown

Most visa overstayers are aged between 25 and 64, with 60% having previously held visitor visas. The majority are from Pacific nations, with the following estimates:

Ranking Country Estimate
1 Tonga 2,498
2 Samoa 1,549
3 China 1,529
4 India 1310
5 Malaysia 790
6 Great Britain 589
7 Fiji 434
8 Tuvalu 358
9 South Korea 323
10 Thailand 184
Other 4331
Total 13895


The deportation process in New Zealand is meticulously regulated to ensure fairness and legal compliance. By understanding the criteria and implications of deportation, individuals can better navigate their legal responsibilities and rights within the immigration system. INZ’s structured approach ensures that those who violate immigration laws or pose public safety risks are managed appropriately, maintaining the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration policies.

Immigration Chambers offers expert guidance and dedicated support from highly trained Licensed Immigration Advisers in Auckland, ensuring the best case presentation to Immigration New Zealand for resolving complex legal visa issues. Get in touch now to get expert guidance to achieve your goals.